Corps won’t increase water releases

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has rejected requests from Midwestern lawmakers and ag interests to increase the flow from upstream Missouri River reservoirs to aid navigation in the Mississippi River that it flows into. Upstream state lawmakers are pleased with Friday’s announcement.

South Dakota Congresswoman Kristi Noem says “releasing additional water from one river for the express purpose of aiding the navigation of another” would only make things worse for South Dakotans. Missouri and Illinois lawmakers and others along the Mississippi River had pressed the Corps to allow those releases to aid Mississippi River navigation.

Illinois Corn Association Executive Director Rod Wienzierl says the Corps began slowing flows about two weeks ago and likely won’t reach its target of 12-thousand cubic feet per second. He says there are too many problems with not enough flow on the Missouri River.

“Because a lot of the other tributary rivers that feed into the Missouri River,” Wienzierl says, “Is not enough to maintain a comfortable water level supply for communities all along the Missouri River. So, (we’re) kind of waiting to see what the bottom of the release looks like to get an idea of what the schedule of navigation looks like on the middle-Mississippi (River), between St. Louis and Cairo (Illinois).”

That section of Mississippi River between St. Louis and Cairo, Illinois also has rock pinnacles that are exposed due to low levels, threatening navigation. Weinzierl says it appears pressure from the Obama administration and Congress has the Corps moving more quickly to get the rock pinnacles removed and the work could begin as soon as this month instead of waiting until February.

Weather forecasts show more rain which could also aid Mississippi River navigation.

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